Australian labour market weaker – no employment growth and participation down

Today, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released the latest data – Labour Force, Australia, September 2018 – which show that the Australian labour market has weakened, with employment growth virtually zero. Compounding that weakness was a sharp decline in the participation rate (0.3 points). Taken together, unemployment and the unemployment rate fell but this is a sign of weakness not improvement. The decline in unemployment is because workers gave up looking for jobs in a weak labour market. Monthly hours worked remained on a flat trend. Overall, my assessment is that the Australian labour market remains in a fairly weak state and, is still a considerable distance from full employment. There is clear room for some serious policy expansion at present.
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    Posted in Labour Force | 2 Comments

    A summary of my meeting with John McDonnell in London

    It is Wednesday and I am reverting to my plan to keep my blog posts short on this day to give me more time for other things. Today, I will briefly outline what happened last Thursday when I met with Shadow British Chancellor John McDonnell in London. As I noted yesterday, I was not going to comment publicly on this meeting. I have a lot of meetings and interactions with people in ‘high’ office which remain private due to the topics discussed etc. But given that John McDonnell told an audience in London later that evening that he had met with me and that I thought the proposed fiscal rule that Labour has adopted was “fine”, I thought it only reasonable that I disclose what happened at that meeting. I did not think the rule was fine and I urged them to scrap it and stop using neoliberal constructs.
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      Posted in Britain, Fiscal Statements, Politics, UK Economy | 40 Comments

      IMF continues to tread the ridiculous path

      I am back in Australia now and I don’t have to stand on my head to write (a reference to the hassles of trying to maintain some order while travelling to different destinations on an almost daily basis). Last week, the IMF released its so-called – Fiscal Monitor October 2018 – and the mainstream financial press had a ‘picnic’ claiming all sorts of disaster scenarios would follow from the sort of financial situations revealed in the publication. At the time of the publication I was in London and the British press went crazy after the IMF publication – predicting that taxes would have to rise and fiscal surpluses would have to be maintained and increased to bring the government’s balance sheet back into balance. Yes, apparently the British government, which issues its own currency, has ‘shareholders’ who care about its Profit and Loss statement and the flow implications of the latter for the Balance Sheet of the Government. Anyone who knows anything quickly realises this is a ruse. There is no meaningful application of the ‘finances’ pertaining to a private corporation to the ‘finances’ of a currency-issuing government. A currency-issuing government’s ‘balance sheet’ provides no help in our understanding of what spending capacities such a government has.
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        Posted in Britain, Fiscal Statements, IMF, UK Economy | 15 Comments

        Sleep and reading – Australia bound

        Today’s blog post is about sleep and reading. I am travelling from London to Sydney today via Hong Kong so I will not write anything more than a few lines. I will be back in writing mode on Tuesday I should think. For the next 24 hours I have a lot of reading to do. I also provide some advice for those who pack running shoes when travelling.
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          Posted in Admin, Music, Sport | 5 Comments

          The Weekend Quiz – October 13-14, 2018 – answers and discussion

          Here are the answers with discussion for this Weekend’s Quiz. The information provided should help you work out why you missed a question or three! If you haven’t already done the Quiz from yesterday then have a go at it before you read the answers. I hope this helps you develop an understanding of modern monetary theory (MMT) and its application to macroeconomic thinking. Comments as usual welcome, especially if I have made an error.
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            Posted in Saturday quiz | 6 Comments

            The Weekend Quiz – October 13-14, 2018

            Welcome to The Weekend Quiz. The quiz tests whether you have been paying attention or not to the blog posts that I post. See how you go with the following questions. Your results are only known to you and no records are retained.
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              Posted in Saturday quiz | 14 Comments

              MMT and pluralism in economics

              I am recording some promotional videos in London today for Macmillan Higher Education who will publish our forthcoming textbook – Macroeconomics on March 11, 2019. These will be the first of many short videos to support the teaching program outlined in the textbook. At last Friday’s very successful launch of the – Gower Initiative for Modern Money Studies (GIMMS) – I was asked a question at the end of the first formal workshop I presented, which I was unable to answer due to time constraints. The question went something like – “What do you think of the movements to instill pluralism into the teaching of economics?” The corollary was whether our forthcoming textbook adopts a ‘pluralist’ approach. The question implied that ‘pluralism’ was a desirable characteristic for a macroeconomics course to feature. In this blog post I discuss this question. It outlines what I might have said by way of answer to that question. But, given the medium, in a lot more detail than I would have provided at the actual event. Generally, we adopt a ‘pluralist’ approach. But it all depends on what we mean by that term. What we do not do is privilege the mainstream macroeconomics in any way. Too often, those who call for ‘pluralism’ in economics think it is appropriate to force students to learn swathes of the mainstream theory and practice as if it is knowledge. They think this is somehow a liberal approach to learning. Our view is that learning is about knowledge accumulation. Universities are not places where ‘fake knowledge’ should be disseminated. That is what propaganda is about.
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                Posted in Economics, Framing and Language, MMT Textbook | 44 Comments

                German citizens firmly against any (even weak) federal reforms to the EMU

                I don’t have much time today as I am travelling from Lisbon back to London for a series of meetings. My next public speaking engagement is on Saturday in Germany (see below). But I read an interesting report yesterday, which confirms the belief that Germany is a long way from ever permitting any wholesale reform of the Eurozone, along the lines necessary to make it functional. The research paper – Attitudes towards Euro Area Reforms: Evidence from a Randomized Survey Experiment – was published by the European Network for Economic and Fiscal Policy Research (econPOL) in June 2018. Even a weak sort of ‘federal’ move – to implement a European-wide unemployment benefit scheme – is rejected by a strong majority of German citizens. The same respondents firmly believe a Member State that finds itself in financial trouble should not be bailed out by the other Member States but should be allowed to go broke (exit the Eurozone). These sort of results are consistent across time. They were present when the Eurozone was initially designed, which is why the foundations were rotten from the start. And they condition all the talk since of reform once it is generally agreed that the system is dysfunctional. Which is why we see deeply flawed changes such as the bank union and the like. It is the differences in cultures and economic structures that preclude genuine reform. And so it will always be. The Europhile Left, who hang on to the eternal hope of eventual reform, should drop the Europhile bit and start acting like the Left.
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                  Posted in Eurozone | 14 Comments

                  The destruction of Greece – the slow-burn decline of a nation

                  Herman Van Rompuy, the former European Union president told us all we needed to know about democracy in the EU when he spoke to a a gathering in Louvain (Belgium) in 2010. In his speech (September 8, 2012) – A Test of Solidarity – Von Rompuy said that the Eurozone meant a “loss of sovereignty for all”. He went on to wax lyrical about the need for solidarity – “Solidarity is a duty, not only a right”. Unfortunately, his behaviour when in power, and the policies pursued by other EU bosses was not consistent with their narratives. Their constant claims that solidarity and convergence marked the aspirations of the EU was never borne out in reality. In the case of Greece, the Troika inflicted such harsh policies that, not only has the material prosperity of the nation been trashed, but now, evidence is emerging that the underlying physical and mental health of the people has been significantly damaged. One step short of genocide. The slow-burn destruction of Greece and its people continues.
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                    Posted in Eurozone | 26 Comments

                    US labour market improves but GFC residue remains

                    On October 5, 2018, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their latest labour market data – Employment Situation Summary – September 2018 – which showed that total non-farm employment from the payroll survey rose by only 134,000. The labour force survey measures show that employment growth outstripped the growth in the labour force, which resulted in the unemployment rate declining by 0.2 points to 3.69 per cent. The US labour market is reaching unemployment rates not seen since the late 1960s, although the participation rate is well below the pre-GFC levels and a substantial jobs deficit remains. The employment-population ratio rose by 0.1 points in September. Taken together, the US labour market continued to improve in September but remains some distance from full employment.
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                      Posted in Labour Force, US economy | 8 Comments